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The Conceptual Practices of Power

In The Conceptual Practices of Power, Dorothy Smith turns positivist social theory on its head by introducing the concept of standpoints. As you read the selection, think back to the classical theorists you have read so far. Do their theories hold up under Smith’s critique? Answer the following questions after completing the reading.


1. What does Smith mean when she writes that “the relevances of sociology are organized in terms of a perspective on the world” and to whose perspective, specifically, is she referring?

2. What are the two elements of “bifurcated consciousness” that Smith characterizes as comprising women’s experiences with sociology?

3. Revisit a classical theorist, such as Marx or Durkheim, and describe how one of their concepts, such as alienation or social facts, was shaped by their standpoint rather than their objectivity. Does Smith’s take discount these classical concepts or does it merely ask us to consider them in a new light?

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